OK, I was stuck on a bus in a blizzard yesterday, so I didn't get to partake in the discussion relating to Danica winning the pole at Daytona among other things...

Since the introduction of plate racing at Daytona in 1988 (the year after Bill Elliot qualified @ 210mph), the pole position has meant very little in terms of the overall outcome of the race. If you follow NASCAR racing at all, 1st place is actually the last place you want to be on a plate track (unless you are crossing the finish line) due to the nature of drafting with the current generation of cars. It's a great personal accomplishment for her (or any racer for that matter) to win any pole at the Cup level, but it is by no means predictive of her future achievement in the Cup series. Ask Loy Allen Jr, David Gilliland, and Jeff Greene what winning the pole at Daytona did for their cup careers (Greene though is a very accomplished Busch/Nationwide driver).

I will admit that I've never liked Danica. This mostly steams from her time in IRL and interractions I've seen with her in the garage with fans and other drivers. Never did I think that I would see the day when someone with no wins (pre-Motegi), and barely even a career yet, refuse to sign autographs until she had her own table separate from Dan Wheldon, Scott Dixon and Helio Castroneves. I have also found her to be a terrible role model for young women and little girls. She always says she wants to be known as a race-car driver first, and not a woman race-car driver. I would applaud that attitude if her actions matched her words, but they never have. She parades her body in SI Swimsuit issues and Go-Daddy commercials that are repeated ad-nauseum, and are arguably the height of objectifying women considering how public those advertisements are. What does that say to the young girl who want's to get into racing? Show your body, and you'll get further than your racing accomplishments will take you? If she really meant what she said, she would shit-can Go-Daddy as a sponsor. She's the ONLY female driver in NASCAR' top series with a pretty heavy media following. She has never had a problem finding sponsors. 

Then we get to racing. Sure she has accomplishments and has run well in top-tier equipment in other racing series. But depending on who you talk to, 1 win and 7 podium finishes (in 115 races) in IRL is nothing to brag about. Also, IRL means nothing in NASCAR, and you can look up Sam Hornish Jr and Dario Franchiti for that. I will admit that wins in lower series do not predict future champions - See Jimmy Johnson's Busch Career. However, the her results do not match the hype, especially in NASCAR. In Nationwide, 7 top 10's in 58 races is not a bad showing for a new driver, and IMO she should stay in that series longer to gain more experience and run well consistently before jumping to Cup full time. I think she is making a huge mistake and should still be running a dual-schedule. She has caused, but also been the victim of many wrecks, but that's what happens when you run in the back on a regular basis. While she finished well in points last year in Nationwide (10th), don't forget that Cup drivers who ran, filled spots-in the top 20, and won races, were not awarded points toward overall standings. The actual finishing order would have likely been much different under the older scoring system. The Cup series is about money and advertising, and this is about the clearest example of that.

I guess the TL;DR edition of this is, so what if she won the pole? If she starts having great success at the cup level, runs well consistently, top-10 finishes, and makes the chase, then that will be outsanding for her and the sport. But she has to accomplish that first. What's not good for the sport is pumping up a driver that has had limited to mediocre success, and ignoring all the other great story-lines, just because she won the pole.